School board elections are May 17

Posted 5/11/22

Voters in New York school districts will be casing their ballots on Tuesday, May 17. 

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School board elections are May 17


REGION — Voters in New York school districts will be casing their ballots on Tuesday, May 17. 

In Sullivan West, there are three available seats on the board of education. Rose Joyce-Turner is running unopposed. The seat vacated by Juliete Gaebel is being sought by Kristen Johnston and Jackie Rutledge. The seat vacated by Ken Cohen is being sought by Michael Ellmauer and Craig Passante. 

Sullivan West voters are asked to approve a $40,893,029 budget for 2022-23, a 3.77 percent increase over last year.

Voting will be held on May 17 from 12 noon to 9 p.m.

Below are candidate statements in the contested races.


Michael Ellmauer

My name is Mike Ellmauer and I am running for a position on the Sullivan West School Board.   

I graduated from the “old” Jeff-Youngsville District. I retired two years ago, having had the pleasure of working in Sullivan West for 38 years as a science teacher, varsity girls soccer and softball coach. I also served as a class and extracurricular advisor. 

I liked my job and I liked Sullivan West very much. During my years, I had the pleasure of working with great colleagues and staff, terrific kids and more than 18 administrators.    

I am running for the board of education because I want to help Sullivan West maintain its high quality outstanding reputation and, most of all, help district students be successful. For many, many years, Sullivan West was the top school in the area and in the top 10 percent in the state of New York. I was part of that! 

I know how things work in the classroom, what the faculty and staff go through, and what the administration deals with on both the state and local level. My wife, Trish, is also a recent elementary school-music retiree, so I know through her how things run successfully in the Jeff building.  

One thing that I know is how to get the faculty and staff, board of education, and the community working together. They should not be adversaries, but partners in the success and well-being of the district student. Thoughtful, productive and creative discussions and dialogue of all parties is what is going to be needed to help the kids be happy, healthy and successful. 

I would greatly appreciate your vote for board of education on May 17! Thank you.

Craig Passante

My name is Craig Passante and I am running for the Sullivan West Central School Board of Education. My family and I have owned and operated businesses in Sullivan County for over 50 years. While work is important and I believe in putting in the time and effort to get results, my biggest and most proud accomplishments are my three daughters. My daughters range from seven to 13 years old and like all parents, I have concerns about how and what my children are being taught and how the shifts in the world are affecting them. I believe that parents should have a right to be part of their children’s education. 

Being raised in a family business and having an athletic background, I was taught from a very young age about the importance of discipline, responsibility, work ethic and the importance of working as a team to attain a common goal. I am not afraid of a challenge or to stand up for what I believe in. My faith in God, the love for my family and the passion I have for our community makes me confident that I will serve our school board not just to the best of my ability, but with the students put first, parents being made to feel they have a voice and to give our educators the support they need to do their jobs effectively. 

I hope you vote for me to represent our school, your kids and your voice. Let me do what I can to keep kids kids, to let parents parent and help teachers teach.


​​Kristen Johnston

Hello friends, neighbors, and fellow taxpayers! For those of you who don’t know me well, I am a parent, avid Bulldog supporter, and resident of Callicoon, and I hope to secure your vote in the Sullivan West Central School District Board of Education election on May 17.  

I grew up just across the Delaware River in Damascus, PA, graduating from Honesdale High School in 2005, after which I attended LaSalle University in Philadelphia, earning degrees in finance and economics. Since college, I have been employed by Johnson & Johnson Inc. where I currently work from home as a senior finance manager in mergers and acquisitions. In 2016, I moved back from Philadelphia to this area to marry my husband, Pete, start a family, and be closer to my relatives. 

Having lived outside the area for 10 years, I gained a broadened perspective, learning how other kids grew up, and can appreciate how fortunate I was, as well as our Sullivan West kids are, to be raised in this down-to-Earth community and school where students are cared about both in and outside the classroom. It literally takes a village to raise a child. 

As a taxpayer and parent with four children (two stepchildren currently attending SWCSD, a toddler, and a newborn daughter) who will ultimately go to Sullivan West, I have found the last two years challenging and at times heartbreaking to watch, teaching me the importance of advocating for our kids. I am a firm believer that education is the great equalizer and can transform a child’s life, whether it be academically, socially, athletically or emotionally, with the school being the foundation from which that is built. However, with partisan issues plaguing today’s school system, it’s vital that our teachers and administrators remain steadfast and focused on our children’s best interests. 

Our school board needs more proactive voices representative of parents’ values that are willing to engage on difficult issues as well as empowering our administrators to do the same.

If elected to the school board, I will ensure that our educational and societal values are represented appropriately to result in the best possible education for our children.  At the end of the day, it is about our kids and setting them up for future success!  Go Bulldogs!

Jackie Rutledge

Hi everyone! I am excited to announce that I have decided to run for the Sullivan West Central School District Board of Education. I am a dedicated mom, dental health advocate, and involved community member. You may know me from running or walking the roads of our county, your dental office, raising money for local charities, helping at the Delaware Youth Center events, the Callicoon Girl Scout troops, with Small Town Country 4-H, or cheering for our kids at a game, concert, play or many other school events.

I am simply a person who cares! 

I would like to do my part in continuing to have a school district we can be proud of! 

I believe our teachers should have the resources available to them to lead our children to successful futures. Our students deserve to have a diverse curriculum including the arts. I will work to ensure both.

I would be honored to serve our school district. I am proud to be a Bulldog! So please vote for Jackie Rutledge for the Sullivan West Central School District Board of Education and for the district budget.

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